Tony's Triathlon Journey
While lining up to race in the 1984 US Olympic marathon trials, Tony realized an undeniable truth... he didn't look like a runner. At 180 pounds, he outweighed the entire field of America's top 200 marathoners by at least 25 pounds each. After finishing in the top 100 in that race, Tony contemplated switching sports to the triathlon where his size and strength would be an asset rather than a hindrance.
For the next year he continued to just run, and then on a Thursday night heard about a local triathlon and 36 hours later he was on the shore ready to dive in. That was probably not a wise idea as he nearly drowned in the 1-mile swim and then cramped badly riding his clankity-old Schwinn through the 25 mile course. All that kept him going through the pain was the knowledge that if he could finish the bike, his specialty, the run awaited. Far behind the field and exhausted, he limped on legs of led at the start of the 6-mile run before finding his stride and finishing... far out of contention... but hooked on the sport. Immediately he began training in ernest for his two new sports, learning the nuances of each and finding the balance needed for such unique and unrelated events. Moreso, he loved the feeling of using every ounce of his body, mind and spirit, and the excitement of being able to finish such grueling events under his own power. Tony felt reborn as an athlete and began a 25-year journey in a shoprt that has changed his life.
In 1987 he won his first triathlon. In 1988 he began to dominate races in the upper Midwest and turned professional and held a world ranking on the pro circut for 5 years while also launching his speaking business. Tony was a natural story-teller and soon was sharing stories of racing in events like the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon and against race legends like Mark Allen, Dave Scott and a certain young athlete named Lance.
Starting in 1994, he returned to the amateur ranks, winning the first of 6 amateur world titles in New Zealand. In his first race after turning 40 years old in 1998, Tony had perhaps his biggest win ever, beating the entire field of 2100 to win the Gulf Coast Triathlon in Panama City, Florida, and in the process becoming the only age 40+ man to win one of the prestigious Hawaii Ironman qualifying races. Tony's other world titles were won in Mexico, the United States, Australia, Mexico again, and finally at age 50, in Vancouver, Canada.
Tony's reign as Minnesota's #1 triathlete spanned 15 consecutive years into his mid forties. Today, at 51 years of age, he remains competitive with the top young athletes and is setting new standards for the master's ranks having won three world and five national titles since joining the 40+ ranks.
Tony's Triathlon Career Highlights:
4 ... # of Hawaii Ironman Finishes
79... # of Triathlon or Duathlon Wins Overall
7 ... # of US National Age Group Titles
6 ... # of Age Group World Titles ('94, '95, '96, '00, '02, '08)
2 ... # of Times Honored as USA Triathlete of the Year: Overall Amateur ('95), Master's ('02)